Cut calories without cutting holiday fun
By member Kristen Sherman, Muncie, Ind.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Now in full swing, the holiday season is a time of celebration, family, togetherness—and for many people, an abundance of food. Food, more than almost anything else, can highlight the spiritual battle of knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it.
Many adults gain about ten pounds around the holidays. This year can be different if you challenge yourself not to consider weight gain a foregone conclusion. Instead, you can bring glory to God through healthier food choices. Here are some suggestions:
Before the celebration:
- About an hour in advance, eat a healthy snack of fruit or vegetables paired with a small amount of yogurt, cheese, or nuts. You’re less likely to pile your plate high when you show up to the party with the edge taken off your hunger.
- Make and take a healthy version of a food you want to eat. Chances are there will be someone else in the crowd who will also appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Make one of your favorite rich, indulgent dishes. However, cut it into smaller servings than normal to help prompt everyone to take an appropriate serving.
- Intentionally eat a little more at your celebration by consuming healthier or smaller portions during your other meals that day.
- Eat healthy foods most of the time, not just holidays. This lifestyle habit will then kick in naturally to help you make wiser food choices when presented with tough decisions.
During the celebration:
- Enjoy a holiday mug of hot cider, eggnog or hot chocolate, but do so after you’ve already quenched your thirst with water or another non-sugary beverage. This step will keep you from over-consuming liquid calories.
- Watch your portions. Don’t be afraid to cut something in half or take only a bite so you can say you’ve tried it.
- Make a sample plate with a bite of everything that interests you. Go back for seconds after tasting and learning what dishes are truly your favorites.
- Aim for more fruits and vegetables (prepared in a healthy way). Fruits and vegetables are typically better for you than other foods, but don’t forget to consider how it’s prepared.
- Position yourself away from the food when visiting with friends and family. Standing near appetizers or snacks puts you at risk of mindless eating while conversing.
- Think about which foods you look forward to all year long and give yourself permission to enjoy them. Say no to holiday foods that aren’t as special, such as prepackaged goodies and store-made bakery items.
- Remember that it can take 20 minutes for your brain to relay a message of fullness to your stomach. Relax, enjoy, and savor your food. Try tuning into your body’s internal cues of fullness and hunger. We get into trouble when we ignore these signs and are attuned only to the sights, smells and tastes of foods that surround us.
After the celebration:
- Get your mind off food at the end of a meal. Consider volunteering to clear the table or help with dishes. You won’t be grazing if you busy yourself with a task.
- Chew a minty piece of gum and you’ll be less likely to keep grazing.
- Freeze tempting leftovers. “Out of sight, out of mind” helps prevent over-indulgence in a dish or dessert you take home from a celebration. Freezing also encourages planning ahead when it’s food that must be thawed.
- Make plans to be active and get the whole family involved. If weather permits try a family hike or walk, or take the younger kids to a playground. It will be good for body, mind and soul!
- Don’t hang onto guilt. Recognize when and where you could do better and move forward. The future lies ahead and guilt is a heavy burden that slows down progress.
And the last but certainly not the least important suggestion is to pray:
- Pray that God will give you wisdom to know what suggestions will work best for you.
- Pray God gives you strength to make good decisions when faced with tough food choices.
- Pray for peace to know that He still loves you even when you don’t make the healthiest decisions; trust that an opportunity to do better will soon present itself.
- Pray for patience with yourself. Food habits have been woven into the fabric of our lives from birth and are very hard to change. Pray that you give God glory in your successes and recognize that it’s possible to build toward glory through failures.
As Psalm 86:5 reminds us “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You.” God cares about us and the food going into our bodies. Call out to Him in times of trouble and never cease to work towards glorifying Him, even in your holiday food choices.
Editor’s note: Kristen Sherman is a registered dietitian and an international board-certified lactation consultant. She also serves as a nutritional consultant for companies launching educational products. Kristen and her husband, Pastor Michael Sherman, have been CHM members since Jan. 2017 and reside in Muncie, Ind.